Return to Transcripts main page


Obama Hails 'Historic' Nuclear Deal with Iran; Netanyahu: Deal Threatens 'Survival of Israel'; Manhunt for Key Kenya Massacre Suspect; Data Recorder Confirms Co-Pilot Crashed Plane. Aired 6-6:30a ET

Aired April 3, 2015 - 06:00   ET



BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Together with our allies and partners, has reached an historic understanding with Iran.

[05:59:00] JOSH EARNEST, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: Diplomacy is the best way for to us prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We say this deal is a move in the wrong direction.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I also take this opportunity to urge Kenyans to stay calm as we resolve this matter.

WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Slaughter on a university campus that apparently targeted Christians.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: A stunning new revelation in the Germanwings investigation.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He searched the Internet for cockpit door security.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He did research something that had to do exactly what has gone on here.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The governors of Arkansas and Indiana signed fixed versions of these laws.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Protecting religious freedom doesn't mean protecting discrimination.


ANNOUNCER: This is NEW DAY, with Chris Cuomo, Alisyn Camerota and Michaela Pereira.

CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning. Welcome to your NEW DAY. It is Friday, April 3, 6 a.m. in the east. Alisyn Camerota off this morning. But Mick and I are here for you.

A framework for a history-making nuclear pact with Iran now in place. But a final agreement is still months away and not a done deal by any stretch. Negotiators have until the end of June to iron out the details. But there is a lot that can happen between now and then.

MICHAELA PEREIRA, CNN ANCHOR: President Obama wasting no time selling the agreement, calling it a good deal. Yet the landmark pact doing very little to ease that standoff between the president and some in Congress. The question now: Will Congress have the ability to approve or reject it?

We are covering this historic story the way only CNN can. We'll begin with global affairs correspondent Elise Labott live from Switzerland -- Elise.

ELISE LABOTT, CNN GLOBAL AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT: Well, Michaela, it was a marathon week of sessions, and then after an all-nighter, the negotiators finally came to a broad political framework that puts a lot of limits on Iran's nuclear program but also leaves a lot of it intact.

Let's talk about some of the key points of this deal. It reduces Iran's centrifuges, which enriched uranium, by about two-thirds. They're going to have about 6,000 left after they had 19,500. It reduces their enriched uranium stockpile significantly, meaning that this extends the breakout time, that Iran won't have enough fissile material to build a bomb for about a year.

And then it also lifts sanctions against Iran in phases.

I think this deal has a lot more than me and my colleagues thought was going to be in it when we were following this all week. But as we say, the devil is in the details. Now negotiators have to hammer out a deal before June.

I sat down with Secretary of State John Kerry yesterday, and I asked him what happens, because Iran's name is not on this actual deal. It's a fact sheet that the U.S. put out. What happens if Iran tries to backpedal and open up the negotiations again and say they didn't agree to any of that? Let's take a listen.


JOHN KERRY, U.S. SECRETARY OF STATE: Then they don't get an agreement. I mean, look, we're very clear about where we are.

LABOTT: If they try it renegotiate, you'll end? You won't give them an agreement?

KERRY: We're not going to -- we've agreed. We've agreed, and we're not going to renegotiate things. We've been very clear about that.


LABOTT: And now John Kerry and Energy Secretary Moniz, who was also in the negotiations, have to make the hard sell to Congress now, that they can make this a good deal for the United States, for Israel, for all parties involved. That's going to be a hard sell. Congress is really looking for a say in this deal. And it looks like they have a veto-proof majority to make that happen -- Chris.

CUOMO: All right. It's going to be a question of whether or not did they just agree or did they agree to agree? We'll see how it plays out. Elise, thank you very much.

There's no question President Obama is facing an uphill battle to sell this Iran framework to a very skeptical and, as Elise said, divided Congress. So let's bring in CNN national correspondent Sunlen Serfaty, joining us from the White House with that part of the story.

Now Sunlen, the president doesn't have to go to Congress to get a deal like this done; it could be done by the executive. But with sanctions hanging in the balance, practically he must, yes?

SUNLEN SERFATY, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: That's right. That's what the White House believes. But Congress, Chris, is going to challenge the president on this. There's already a series of defiant bills ready and lined up on Capitol Hill for him. Republicans are saying that this bill, this deal has too many concessions to Iran. The Republicans saying that. But Democrats meanwhile, they're saying, they're giving tepid responses at best.

Now Congress is back from recess in two weeks. It is then when Senate Foreign Relations chair, Republican Bob Corker, says he will move forward with his bill. This is a bill that has already elicited a veto threat from the White House. It's a bill that ultimately, if they're able to get a veto-proof majority, it would give Congress the ability to approve or reject any final bill.

Now key here will, of course, be Senate Democrats. Will they defy the president on this? Some have already signed onto the bill. The White House has said that will undercut their negotiating ability at the table. And President Obama gave a stern warning to Congress.


OBAMA: If Congress kills this deal, not based on expert analysis, and without offering any reasonable alternative, then it's the United States that will be blamed for the failure of diplomacy. International unity will collapse. And the path to conflict will widen.


SERFATY: And the White House has promised that there will be briefings to Congress. They've promised high-level engagement to Congress. But Congress does want more than that. They want a final and formal say in this deal -- Michaela.

PEREIRA: All right, Sunlen. Well, despite the hard sell from the White House, Israel still isn't buying. Prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu has been against the Iran nuclear deal from the very start, using his strongest language yet to condemn it.

I want to turn to Oren Lieberman, who is live in Jerusalem with more on the reaction there -- Oren.

OREN LIEBERMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Netanyahu has been critical of this deal since the very beginning, and his language, as you pointed out, has only gotten stronger.

[06:05:02] In a conversation with President Obama, in which the president tried to reassure Netanyahu that Israel's security was very much in this deal, Netanyahu said that this deal increases the risk of a, quote, "horrific war." Horrific war, some very powerful language coming from Netanyahu.

He criticized what's in the deal and what's not in the deal. Netanyahu wanted to make sure that this deal didn't just limit or change Iran's nuclear facilities, but dismantle them, actually took them apart. Netanyahu says the deal doesn't do that.

He also says he wanted to see this deal -- Netanyahu's government says they wanted to see this deal tie the lifting of restrictions to Iran pulling back its aggression in the region. There again, Netanyahu's government says this deal doesn't do that.

So what will Netanyahu do for now? Well, first we expect a statement from him shortly. He called an emergency cabinet meeting this afternoon. So we expect a statement coming out of that shortly. And then remember, House Speaker Boehner was here. Senator Mitch McConnell was here. He's working very closely with congressional Republicans to lobby against this deal. So we'll see more from that perhaps.

Chris, certainly worth noting that intelligence Yuval Steinitz has not ruled out the military option here.

CUOMO: Look, everybody is keeping their options on the table. The question becomes is the deal better than no deal?

Thank you for the reporting.

Let's get some perspective from someone who understands the situation. The phone right now, former secretary of state, Madeleine Albright, also an ambassador to the United Nations. She's now the chairman of the National Democratic Institute and the Albright Stonebridge Group.

Very good to have you, Madam Secretary, on the phone.

MADELEINE ALBRIGHT, FORMER SECRETARY OF STATE (via phone): Good morning. Nice to be with you.

CUOMO: So what do you think? Is this an acceptable framework?

ALBRIGHT: I have been looking through it and following this very closely. I do think it's even more than an acceptable framework. It has done a lot of what people were demanding. In terms of the two- thirds of the installed centrifuges have to be reduced. There is a way that Iran has agreed not to enrich uranium over a low level for at least 15 years. It's agreed to reduce its current stockpile. CUOMO: Right.

MADELEINE: I won't go through all the details of this. But it really has done an awful lot.

The key part here, that I think is so important, is the inspection system that is set up for IAEA. Everything has to be verified. And the sanctions, are dependent or the removal of them, on that verification, and I think that what it has done is in fact, increase the breakout time for Iran to go forward, if they did feel that they wanted to produce a weapon.

So I think it has done what was promised. And now we are going to be looking at the details as the framework is -- not enlarged, but followed out in terms of the details of it.

CUOMO: Now a framework is not a deal itself. Everybody should understand that. And there is a big chance that not Iran, but the U.S. Congress may upset this process. How important is it to you that a deal gets done? How strong a message do you want to send about that?

ALBRIGHT: I think it's absolutely essential. Because this is one of the issues that has troubled everybody in terms of nuclear power here. In that particular area. The capability to do a bomb. I do think that this is an essential deal, it is a good deal as we see it now.

And I do think -- I obviously have always believed that Congress should have a voice in talking about foreign policy. But I think people have to be very careful not to undo something that has been worked on so carefully by experts, who are going to be very willing to come up and explain this to members of Congress.

And I think that one has to be careful not to unravel something that has been so carefully designed. And as secretary Kerry said and the president has said, basically nothing is agreed until everything is agreed. So the next months are going to be very important.

CUOMO: Madam Secretary, quickly, what do you make of the paranoia or the suspicion that Iran is just playing the P5+1 and using this nuclear negotiation to garner some softness in the other areas that matter to them, like what they're doing in Yemen, what they're doing in Syria, what they're doing in Iraq. And that they don't really have to agree to anything here; they're just buying time.

ALBRIGHT: I don't agree with that. I think obviously negotiations take time. But there are so much issues that involve our having a relationship with Iran. We haven't had one since 1979. And developing that and then working on the other issues.

There's no question that what Iran is doing in the region is very serious and has to be dealt with. But I think that having this framework agreement in place will make that more possible. And that we obviously can't forget about the other parts, but we also, I think have to be really careful in terms of having the option of force on the table. But not threatening it to such a point that things could get even worse in the Middle East.

CUOMO: Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, thank you very much for the help, as always.

ALBRIGHT: Thank you.

CUOMO: Let's turn now to Hillary Mann Leverett. She's the co- author of "Going to Tehran: Why America Must Accept the Islamic Republic of Iran."

[06:10:01] She's a former Clinton and Bush National Security Council adviser and a State Department Middle East expert. She has directly negotiated with Iran over the pursuit of al Qaeda.

So always good to have you on the show. You understand the dynamic there very well. The major push-back that we'll start hearing, starting this morning is you don't do a deal with the devil.

HILLARY MANN LEVERETT, CO-AUTHOR, "GOING TO TEHRAN": Yes. We're certainly going to hear that. And I think that these talks are fragile. The -- this interim agreement, this understanding is fragile. It's going to be an extremely tough road ahead.

But I have negotiated with Iranian officials, including the current foreign minister, Javad Zarif, over Afghanistan and al Qaeda. And those were incredibly productive, constructive negotiations and discussions. We worked very well with them in Afghanistan. The Iranians are one ally in the region that see eye to eye with us against al Qaeda and the Islamic State. We're working with them, essentially, hand in hand in Iraq, against the Islamic State, as we did in Afghanistan against al Qaeda.

So there are areas where we have worked with them productively, constructively in the past, and I think this nuclear deal shows that we can also work with them constructively on proliferation, nonproliferation issues.

CUOMO: Respond -- that's interesting, you used the word "ally" in Iran. You don't hear that very often around here.

MANN LEVERETT: That's right.

CUOMO: The -- another point of push-back will be the moment that you let up on the sanctions, they are going to go to town and get everything that they wanted. They're going to show that they're stronger than the U.S. and the P5+1. And you'll never get the inspections right.

MANN LEVERETT: You know, what's so fascinating about the Islamic Republic of Iran is that they have built this -- they have built an economy, a country, a system over the past 35 years that is really, in a lots of ways, self-sufficient.

When they had the revolution in 1979, they were completely dependent on the U.S. military. They couldn't produce a single bullet. But what they've done under sanctions, on their own, is build up a military industrial complex which can protect their country.

So the idea that sanction somehow dissuades them just defies the record.

When I first started arguing within the Bush administration that we needed to deal with the Iranians on the nuclear issue back in 2003, the Iranians had 164 centrifuges. As we imposed more and more sanctions, they were able to acquire more and more centrifuges. So today they have nearly 20,000. That's up from 164 to 20,000. They did that under sanctions. The idea that somehow lifting sanctions is going to let them do "X" or "Y" or "Z" just defies the record.

CUOMO: Or that extra sanctions will be what puts a foot on their throat, so to speak. You're saying it may not have the teeth that people expect.

Alright. So the last point that I want you to make here on this deal in this early stage is that Congress is going to say, "No way. We're not giving it to you, Mr. President. We're going to use these sanctions, effectively, to frustrate your efforts in this deal unless we're brought on board."

As a policy expert, in dealing with Congress, do you think that Congress has a right to approve this deal? What do you think the proper legal dynamic is here?

MANN LEVERETT: Well, certainly, I mean, the Constitution sets up that diplomacy is entirely within the realm of the executive. But Congress does an oversight role, especially because so many of the sanctions were legislated.

CUOMO: By Congress, yes.

MANN LEVERETT: So they're entirely within Congress's role.

But the critical problem here is for President Obama to make the strategic sell. If he focuses on it just as an arms control agreement, my concern is that it will die on the vine, just like President Carter's SALT II treaty with the Soviets over their strategic arsenal.

We've seen failure before. We could see failure again if it's a narrow arms control issue. If there's a broader strategic case like Nixon and Kissinger vis-a-vis China, I think that will sell.

But President Obama has been extremely reluctant to make that strategic case. And instead, he seems to be going down the path, potentially, of President Carter, where he's dependent on a Congress, to OK an arms control agreement which they may -- there may not be any arms control agreement with Iran that would be good enough for them.

CUOMO: Well, if the president is dependent on Congress, the history of his presidency shows the prospects are not good. So we'll keep a very close eye on it. Hillary Mann Leverett, thank you as always.


MANN LEVERETT: Thank you very much.

PEREIRA: All right, Chris. We turn now to Kenya, a massive search is on for a key suspect in Thursday's horrifying massacre at a university in Kenya.

Al Shabaab terrorists raiding the campus, targeting non-Muslims and executing them. One hundred forty-seven students are dead. We're told there are still bodies on the school ground. We're going to have more for you coming up on that. We have a live reporter on the ground. We'll talk to him about the scene there today.

We understand the university has been closed indefinitely. So we'll talk to him. We're going to take a short break.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This morning it's been just over 24 hours since al Shabaab gunmen terrorized this university in Kenya.

[06:15:09] Now with at least 147 dead and nearly 600 evacuated, the community of Garissa in complete agony.

The massacre beginning just before dawn on Thursday, the terrorists descending on early-morning prayers, reportedly separating Muslims from Christians and killing the Christians or taking them hostage.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They started jumping up and down, running for their lives, but it's unfortunate that where they are going to is where the gunshots were coming from.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The gunmen then going dormitory to dormitory before Kenyan forces eventually corner them, a standoff lasting for hours. Finally at around 9 p.m. officials announce the end of the operation.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Garissa, Kenya, just 90 miles off the Somalia...


CUOMO: We're going to be giving you the latest information as we get it. What's going on in Kenya. As Michaela was telling you, there's still bodies on the ground there. It's a very fluid situation. We still don't know exactly what the numbers were involved, either for the victims or on the attackers. And as soon as we get our communications up there and get better reporting, we'll be back to it.

We have breaking news for you in the investigation into the crash of Germanwings Flight 9525. The second black box has been found and has been downloaded, and it does seem to confirm that the co-pilot purposely accelerated the plane's descent, slamming it into a mountain in the French Alps. As investigators make a disturbing find, as well, on Andreas Lubitz' tablet device, CNN's Will Ripley joins us live from Dusseldorf, Germany.

That second part may be even more intriguing in terms of understanding the planning that went into this horrible situation, Will.

WILL RIPLEY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, that's right. The information on that tablet crucial for investigators, because a European official is telling us it essentially proves the theory that this is premeditated murder, the premeditated murder of 149 innocent people.

But breaking just within the last hour, those insights from the flight data recorder that was recovered in the French Alps. It was buried in eight inches of debris because of the force of the impact. And now the data recorder shows that Andreas Lubitz changed the autopilot settings, bringing the plane down. He set it for 100 feet, a collision course with the mountain range. And at the same time, he was manually increasing the speed to make sure that that plane hit the mountain, completely obliterating it.

Very disturbing. And the evidence that was seized from his apartment also reveals more insight about what he was planning.


RIPLEY (voice-over): Appalling new insights into the disturbed mind of Germanwings co-pilot Andreas Lubitz. A tablet seized from Lubitz' home contained chilling Internet searches he allegedly made the week leading up to the crash. Prosecutors found search terms relating to methods to commit suicide; cockpit doors, and their security measures. All which investigators say amounts to premeditated murder.

DAVID SOUCIE, CNN SAFETY ANALYST: A lot of pilots don't know exactly how to turn that lock off, so it may have just been that. He was looking it up to make sure he understood how to keep that pilot out.

RIPLEY: New details continue to emerge about Lubitz's rapidly deteriorating psychological health. A law enforcement source close to the investigation says Lubitz suffered severe depression and stress late last year. He was doctor-shopping, seeing as many as six for ongoing sleep and vision problems. Lubitz was even prescribed heavy depression medication the source believes he was not taking the day of the crash.

MILES O'BRIEN, CNN AVIATION ANALYST: Medications that are treating depression, sometimes they can make someone sleepy. They can be sedating, but they can also have nearly the opposite effect. It can sort of make them become more on the sort of manic side of things.

RIPLEY: He apparently told some doctors he was fearful of losing his pilot license because of his medical issue, a potentially key motive for the deadly crash.

(END VIDEOTAPE) RIPLEY: And this morning, Michaela, as information continues to

come in, it becomes more and more clear that this was a deliberate act on the part of Andreas Lubitz. But the one key question remains unanswered, and that is why did he do this -- Michaela.

PEREIRA: Something we may never fully understand. All right, Will, thank you so much for that reporting.

We turn to -- back here in America, two women in New York charged with planning an ISIS-inspired bomb plot. Authorities say one woman had repeated contact with members of al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula. We're told they planned to target police, military or government sites.

In the meantime, an American citizen accused of supporting al Qaeda detained in Pakistan and secretly flown back to New York to face a judge. That 29-year-old allegedly plotted to attack Americans abroad.

CUOMO: Lawmakers in Indiana and Arkansas swiftly approving fixes that aim to remove the risk of using religious freedom laws to defend discrimination. Neither state gave LGBT advocates what they want, which is protection as a class under state law.

[06:20:11] Now Indiana added to its existing bill, and Arkansas passed a narrower version of its original bill, which now is virtually identical to the religious freedom law that the federal government has.

PEREIRA: This is a story that almost defies understanding. An emotional reunion, Chris, for a family who feared it may never happen. Thirty-seven-year-old Louis Jordan left a Virginia hospital a day after his remarkable rescue at sea. When asked if he ever lost hope, Jordan said he couldn't think like that because of his family.


LOUIS JORDAN, SURVIVED 66 DAYS AT SEA: The most valuable things we have in life are our relationships and those we love and how we treat other people. That's what makes us precious. That's what makes people precious and valuable, is that we care for each other, and we love each other and we live our love.


PEREIRA: So the back story for those of you that may have missed it, Jordan had been missing for 66 days when he was spotted in his disabled sailboat by a passing cargo ship, about 200 miles off the coast of North Carolina. He was medivacked by the Coast Guard to the hospital.

What's really remarkable, Chris, is that he only had a shoulder injury, but otherwise was OK. He apparently rationed his food. He said that he ate raw fish and drank rainwater in order to survive.

CUOMO: It sounds like a movie. Like part of that "Unbroken" movie that came out about Zamperini. I can't believe, imagine what goes through your mind for two months.

PEREIRA: Survive. Survive.

CUOMO: More than that.

PEREIRA: I know.

CUOMO: Two months.

PEREIRA: Incredible.

CUOMO: Anyway, we're going to take a break. When we come back more on the bloody terror attack that has Kenya and the world reeling. Al Shabaab terrorists singling out Christian students for slaughter. What do these Somalian extremists want? And more importantly, how will they be stopped?

PEREIRA: And we are going to take a look at some of those revamped religious freedom laws in two states. Were they fixed? And why the situation, well, is far from over.


PEREIRA: A manhunt is under way this morning for the alleged mastermind behind the bloody rampage at a university in Kenya. Officials are offering a $215,000 reward for information about Mohamed Mohamud.

Thursday's deadly terror attack by al Shabaab terrorists left 147 people dead, most of them students.

Joining me now is the chief Africa correspondent for the African news channel, ENCA, Robin Kriel, who covered Thursday's terror attack.

Robin, thank you so much for joining us. I want you to bring us the very latest on this manhunt for the alleged mastermind. We understand the four attackers were killed in the siege yesterday. What do we know about this individual?

ROBIN KRIEL, CORRESPONDENT, ENCA: Well we know that he's from that area. He is from Garissa town. He is well known to have led certain factions of al Shabaab, al Qaeda-linked militant group. Al Shabaab, especially in the Juba region. That's the border, really, between Kenya and Somalia.

He has been wanted for a long time in connection with a number of other bloody murders in -- especially in the case of a quarry massacre, as it were, where about 30 miners were shot dead in their sleep. He has been wanted by Kenyan authorities for a long time. They've now upped the price on his head.

PEREIRA: Now I understand that there was a threat against this university by al Shabaab back in December. Was it your sense, was it from the same subsect at al Shabaab? Was there anything done at the university to try to fortify, to make it safer for the students in that time before this attack? KRIEL: There's been a number of threats throughout Nairobi,

Mombasa and in the northeastern town of Garissa, specifically focusing on tertiary educations, where -- which would be essentially soft targets. It's not like they're going to be hitting an embassy, for example, that would be heavily fortified. It would just be a few unarmed security guards.

We haven't known -- we don't know specifically if they did up their security back in December. But it certainly sounds like there wasn't much security, definitely not one that, any that could withstand the well-armed militaristic group that ambushed the university yesterday morning.

PEREIRA: You wrote an article last week about fears that al Shabaab may be on the verge of joining up with ISIS. Tell us more about that. You've talked about the threats that are there in the country and around the region.

KRIEL: Well, on the top levels, the leadership levels, that's really been refuted, as it were. Al Shabaab leadership, we're told from the highest levels, is not interested in joining the Islamic State.

However, we understand that the lower levels of al Shabaab, the younger sort of young lions as they call themselves, enjoy the way that the Islamic State portrays itself. It's very flashy; its flashy videos; it's extremely brutal. The way that it's able to attract foreigners online. Those sorts of things are quite interesting to the younger -- the younger factions of al Shabaab.

There has also been a number of skirmishes between certain groups, some of whom believe they should join ISIS, others who believe they should remain loyal to al Qaeda. However, we do understand that the elders will make the final call, and the final call at the moment is to remain affiliated with al Qaeda.

PEREIRA: African Union and Kenyan forces were said to have felt confident that they were close to eradicating al Shabaab within Kenya. Yet, this has got to be seen as a major setback. Did they underestimate the group's power?

KRIEL: All of these attacks, I believe, are underestimating the power of al Shabaab to strike almost at will, both at home in Somalia and next door here in Kenya. And in 2010, we saw that they struck in Campala, as well.

These sort of attacks are extremely militarily precise. They come very well armed. And they're attacking targets where a policeman may have only seven bullets or unarmed security guards, places like malls, people that cannot shoot back. And they're aiming...